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February 20 2015

Some Rain Falls Faster than Physics Says It Should


Some radical raindrops are flouting the rules: The wet-weather drips seem to be breaking a physical speed limit, sometimes falling 10 times faster than they should, scientists have found.

Like all objects in free fall, raindrops move according to the laws of physics. One of those laws puts a barrier on how fast a free-falling object can travel. This terminal velocity is reached when the downward tug of gravity equals the opposing force of air resistance.

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February 20 2015

Moon Water Ingredient More Plentiful on Slopes Facing Lunar South Pole


Future moon colonists seeking water should focus on crater slopes that face the moon's south pole rather than those that face the equator, according to new data.

That conclusion comes after NASA's long-running Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) discovered there is very slightly more hydrogen — 23 parts per million by weight, on average — in "polar-facing slopes." Hydrogen could be a sign of lunar water since it, along with oxygen, form to make water. If this hypothesis is confirmed and there is enough water available, future colonists could mine the liquid rather than transporting it from Earth.

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February 20 2015

Mars Hills Hide Icy Past


A complex network of isolated hills, ridges and small basins spanning 1400 km on Mars is thought to hide large quantities of water-ice.

Phlegra Montes stretches from the Elysium volcanic region at about 30ºN and deep into the northern lowlands at about 50°N, and is a product of ancient tectonic forces. Its age is estimated to be 3.65–3.91 billion years.


Related: Searching for signs of Mars life could destroy them

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February 20 2015

Lithium comes from stellar explosions


A large amount of lithium, one of the key elements in the chemical evolution of the cosmos, is produced by stellar explosions called novae.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature, provide the first direct evidence that lithium, which is used for lithium-ion batteries in computers, smart phones and eco-cars, is produced by stellar objects.

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February 20 2015

LHC Ready to Hunt Down Mystery Dark Matter Particles


An upgraded, more powerful Large Hadron Collider, slated to begin returning to service next month, should open the door to new realms of physics, including possibly a glimpse of so-called “dark matter” particles, which, along with an equally mysterious dark energy force, dominate the universe.

Dark matter is so named because it does not emit or absorb light -- or any other electromagnetic radiation. Its presence is inferred by how its gravity impacts stars, galaxies, dust and other visible matter.

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February 20 2015

Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?


Research by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth. In a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, he concludes that movement through dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth's core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events.

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February 19 2015

The mystery of the offset chronologies: Tree rings and the volcanic record of the 1st millennium


Annually-resolved ice core and tree-ring chronologies provide opportunities for understanding past volcanic forcing and the consequent climatic effects and impacts on human populations.

Thus, it is fundamentally important to have chronological agreement between historical, tree-ring and ice core chronologies: The ice cores record the magnitude and frequency of volcanic eruptions, with the trees recording the climatic response, and historical records evidencing human responses to these events.

But they don’t quite line up…

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February 19 2015

Tilapia: A Fish that Will Heal Your Wounds


Tilapia is best served with a side of French fries and cabbage, but scientists from Shanghai believe they have discovered an even better use: Collagen extracted from tilapia can be applied as a wound dressing that helps accelerate healing.

Collagen, a protein found in connective tissue which is produced by cells called fibroblasts, facilitates wound healing.

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February 19 2015

Dolphins set up home in the Mediterranean after the last Ice Age


The bottlenose dolphin only colonised the Mediterranean after the last Ice Age - about 18,000 years ago – according to new research.

Leading marine biologists collaborated in the study - the most detailed ever conducted into the genetic structure of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Mediterranean to date – and the results have been published today 17th February, 2015 in the journal Evolutionary Biology.

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February 19 2015

Ruby-Red Sea Dragon Is Brand-New Species


For the first time in 150 years, researchers have found a new species of sea dragon, a marine creature with "unusual red coloration," according to a new study.

Scientists discovered the new species, Phyllopteryx dewysea, while they were studying ways to protect the two known species of sea dragons — the orange-tinted leafy sea dragon and the yellow-and-purple common sea dragon — both of which are native to Australian waters.

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February 19 2015

Rare Earth Metal Balls Found Beneath The Atlantic Ocean


Scientists looking for deep sea organisms on a research cruise last month got a surprise when, instead of deep sea life, they pulled up metal balls the size of softballs. The German researchers stumbled inadvertently onto the discovery of the largest deposit of manganese nodules known to exist in the Atlantic ocean.


Alt: What are the mystery 'alien' balls found on the ocean floor? Scientists are baffled by manganese rocks discovered in the Atlantic

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February 19 2015

Fairy tales: Finding fairy bushes across Northern Ireland


It's not a normal task to be set when arriving in the newsroom. Go and find out what you can about fairies and Fairy Thorns - of course it's Friday 13th.

So where does an incredibly sceptic journalist go to be convinced about fairies? Well my granny Evelyn of course - as I remember her telling about fairies at Matties Rock in Bushmills when we were growing up.

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February 19 2015

Defeating the devil: why exorcism in Australia is on the rise


Exorcism is on the rise worldwide, backed by no less a figure than Pope Francis. In Australia, Peter Munro meets some of our foremost demon wranglers, and people who say they've had their souls saved.


Related: In Thailand, the Ghost Business Thrives

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February 19 2015

In a Curious Case for Astronomers, a Brown Dwarf Goes Missing


Astronomers are trying to crack a strange new case: the mystery of the missing dwarf star.

Using one of the biggest telescopes in the world, the ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, researchers were on the hunt for what they had confidently predicted to be a brown dwarf, only to discover that the object was nowhere to be found.

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February 19 2015

For the first time, spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act


On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun's surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon before streaming toward Earth. The shockwave struck a massive blow to the Earth's magnetic field, setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet.


Related: Giant Filament Seen on the Sun

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February 19 2015

Star Buzzed Earth During Neanderthal Times


Seventy thousand years ago, when modern humans were on the verge of migrating from Africa and before Neanderthals died out, an alien star flew through the outer reaches of the solar system.

Passing less than a light-year from Earth, the flyby was the closest stellar near-miss identified so far, scientists reported Tuesday in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


Alt: Alien star system buzzed the Sun

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February 19 2015

Neanderthal groups based part of the their lifestyle on the sexual division of labor


Neanderthal communities divided some of their tasks according to their sex. This study, which analyzed 99 incisors and canine teeth of 19 individuals from three different sites, reveals that the dental grooves present in the female fossils follow the same pattern, which is different to that found in male individuals.


Alt: Women were expected to do household chores 100,000 years ago: Neanderthal females fixed clothing while men made tools

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